Portugal-China relations have set “a great example” for China-Europe cooperation, China’s ambassador to Lisbon Zhao Bentang has said.
“Portugal, as one of the countries with the fastest economic recovery in Europe, is also one of the first European countries to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China,” Zhao said during the Hong Kong Seminar in Europe 2022, which took place in Lisbon last week.
“The friendly relations linked by Macao and multi-dimensional pragmatic cooperation between Portugal and China have set a great example for China-Europe cooperation,” he added.
Zhao underlined that China and Europe account for one-third of the world’s total economic output and one-quarter of the world’s total population, making them “the world’s two major forces, two major markets, and two major civilisations”.
He noted: “A stable China-Europe relationship is the ‘twin engine’ of the world economy and the stabiliser of world peace. It is the consensus and shared responsibility of China and Europe to promote the stable and long-term development of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.”
Zhao stressed the risks posed by the ongoing pandemic and global division and confrontation, making China-EU relations experience many challenges and tests.
“At this critical moment, we should promote dialogue and cooperation between China and Europe, improve understanding, dispel doubts and enhance trust,” he said.
Zhao said that cooperation has always been the main theme of the China-EU relations and that maintaining the “WTO-centred, rules-based multilateral trading system and promoting trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation not only serves the interests of China and Europe, but also safeguards the common interests of all countries in the world”.
The seminar was organised by the Federation of Hong Kong Business Association Worldwide and co-hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, the Portugal-Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
The event attracted close to 200 guests, and aimed to promote the global multilateral trading system, focusing on the development opportunities brought by the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, to Europe and the world, CLBrief reported.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Zhao added, will strengthen communications and cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland China, bringing “greater opportunities, stronger driving force and broader scope for a new round of economic growth for Hong Kong.”
It will also make Hong Kong “a more important international cooperation platform for the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative”, which enhances the city’s role as the world’s gateway to mainland China.
In the run-up to the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Zhao said that “thanks to the support from mainland China and benefiting from a global vision, Hong Kong has overcome many difficulties and challenges, achieved social stability, and continued to develop its economy, improve social benefits and expand international influence.”
“It has become one of the freest economies, one of the most active trading entities and one of the most desired foreign direct investment destinations in the world.”
The Special Representative for Hong Kong Economic and Trade Affairs to the European Union, Eddie Cheung, spoke about Hong Kong’s advantages amid one of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically the tendency for countries to become more inward-looking and less trusting. “Now, it is the right time to reinforce globalisation, to build trust and multilateralism,” Cheung said.
“Hong Kong is a founding member of the World Trade Organization. We have supported multilateralism from day one. There are no tariffs in Hong Kong, and we are a platform for international exchanges of business, culture and people.
“More cooperation, more international trust will benefit not just one side but be a multilateral benefit.”